Kieran Stone is a fine art landscape photographer based in Melbourne, Australia. He is a believer in getting it right in camera and this integrity to represent the true beauty of mother nature has seen him win awards at the International Landscape Photographer of the Year Awards, the International Loupe Awards and the Australian Institute of Professional Photography. Deservedly so…
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you began shooting landscapes.
I grew up fascinated by the natural world around me. My fondest memories usually revolve around a national park somewhere in Victoria, Australia. As I got older, my exploration expanded to encompass the world. What I saw, I had to capture. I always had an interest in taking photos, but it wasn’t until 2011 that I took up photography. I was living in London, travelling around Europe with my wife and I needed a way to accurately document the incredible landscapes and cities we visited.
If you don’t step out from behind the camera and appreciate where you are at that moment, it’s not worth taking a photo.
Is your photography dictated by your travels or do you travel to photograph?
I’d say the two go hand in hand. If I have to go somewhere for non-photography related reasons, I’ll still take my camera and gear and explore. If I have somewhere in mind I want to photograph, I’ll travel there. It’s still impossible for me to travel just to take pictures. If you don’t step out from behind the camera and appreciate where you are at that moment, it’s not worth taking a photo.
What do you find is the most challenging aspect of landscape photography?
The weather is always a huge factor when it comes to landscape photography. All your preparation, planning and patience can be worth very little if nature decides not to go your way. I was at Lake Matheson in New Zealand, trying to capture a sunset on the mountains reflecting in the mirror finish water. A bank of clouds sat calmly over the peaks obscuring the view until sunset came and it looked like I wouldn’t get the shot I was after. I walked back to the car only to see on the western horizon the remnants of a fiery pink and red sunset that would have been spectacular! None of which reached the mountains and was completely out of sight from my position on the lakes edge. Had that light reached unobscured mountain peaks…
If you plan right, find your composition and know what shot you’re going for, you can still soak up your surroundings and really enjoy what you’re doing.
In The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Sean Penn’s character has a line “If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it”. As a landscape photographer, can you relate to this? What has been your Snow Leopard moment?
One good thing about landscape photography is you have time to appreciate where you are. If you plan right, find your composition and know what shot you’re going for, you can still soak up your surroundings and really enjoy what you’re doing. Just trying to think about any one moment that stands out amongst the rest brings up so many times I’ve just stood and slowly taken in the beauty of the landscape around me. As I said before, if you can’t appreciate where you are at the moment, it’s not worth taking a photo.
Talk us through the contents of your camera bag when you are planning a landscape shoot.
In my bag I have my Canon 5D mkIII. My lenses consist of a 17-40mm F4.0, 24-105mm F4.0, 70-300mm F4.0-5.6 (needs upgrading) and a 50mm F1.4. I have a Lee Bigstopper, a range of Formatt ND Grad Filters and a circular polariser. A Manfrotto tripod keeps every thing nice and still and a remote shutter release stops me moving the camera. I always carry multiple SD cards, a spare camera battery, spare batteries for my shutter remote, a cleaning kit and lens cloths. That’s what I take everywhere when I’m planning on shooting, even hiking.
What are your preferred post-production tools and how much do you like to do with your landscape photography?
I use Adobe Camera Raw for basic adjustments and then Photoshop CS6 for everything else. I always try to keep my post work to something that best represents what I saw and how I felt. 95% of my work is from single exposures. I just tend to work that way but have nothing against compositing multiple exposures and would do so if the situation warranted. How I approach post-processing is all explained in my blog (here).
Enjoy what you’re doing and don’t let yourself feel rushed and frustrated if you miss a really good sunset or sunrise. They happen every day, and they’re all different.
What is the top piece of advice that you would give to photographers considering landscape photography?
Have patience. It will take time to get to the places you really want to get to. Start by finding interesting scenery near where you live, even if it seems mundane to you, it may be completely new to someone else. It will take time (for most of us) to accumulate all the gear that is available for landscape photographers, you don’t need it all right away. You’ll find out what you need as you get started. It will take time to develop a style, and even that will evolve. Enjoy what you’re doing and don’t let yourself feel rushed and frustrated if you miss a really good sunset or sunrise. They happen every day, and they’re all different.
What is next for you? Do you have any trips planned or projects that you can tell us about?
In my head there is a long list of locations that I want to visit, which includes places I’ve been before. I’m focusing a little closer to home at the moment and I want to build up a solid portfolio of Melbourne and Victoria, trying to get something new.
See more of Kieran’s work at:
All images copyright Kieran Stone.